USAV High Performance Athletes Shine in NCAA Men’s Semis

By Bill Kauffman | May 02, 2013, 11:06 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman, Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email:
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 2, 2013) – Brigham Young University and UC Irvine have advanced to the NCAA National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship with semifinal victories on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles. The teams will play for the championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. PT with the match being aired on ESPNU.

BYU (22-3), the top seed in the tournament, defeated fourth-seed Penn State University 25-21, 25-16, 25-22. BYU was on the NCAA is making its fifth trip to the championship match with titles won in 1999, 2001 and 2004. Defending champion UC Irvine (24-7), the seeded second in the tournament blanked No. 3 Loyola University-Chicago 26-24, 25-18, 29-27 in a hard-fought match. UC Irvine will be making its fourth appearance in the NCAA title match, winning its three previous championship matches in 2007, 2009 and 2012. BYU won both meetings over UC Irvine this year and are 41-12 all-time in the series history.

Taylor Sander, member of the 2011 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team that competed in the FIVB Men’s Junior World Championship, paced BYU with 17 kills on 27 attacks as part of a .556 hitting efficiency. He added three block assists and seven digs in the victory. Ben Patch, who led the U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Team to the 2012 NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship gold medal and was named most valuable player of the event, charted 12 kills on 27 attacks, one block solo, five block assists and two aces as part of a 17.5-point performance. Tyler Heap and Ryan Royce tallied 18 and 16 assists, respectively, as the Cougars hit .345 as a team for the night.

Penn State (23-8) was led by Aaron Russell and his 15 points on the night through 13 kills and two aces. Nick Goodell tacked on nine kills, while Peter Russell pocketed eight kills and a block assist. Taylor Hammond was credited with 28 assists. Connor Curry led the Nittany Lion back-row with eight digs.

BYU held a commanding advantage at the net with 13.5 blocks to Penn State’s two. BYU produced a slim margins in aces at 6-3 and digs at 31-29.

Kevin Tillie led UC Irvine over Loyola-Chicago (22-10) with 17 points via 14 kills on 19 attacks, four block assists and an ace. He added a team-high seven digs to go with a .579 attack efficiency. Colin Mehring produced an astounding .818 hitting efficiency with nine kills on 11 errorless swings to go with two block assists and an ace. Connor Hughes chipped in nine kills on 13 attacks. Chris Austin set UC Irvine to a .500 hitting efficiency as a team (46-8-76) with 39 assists to go with seven digs and three block assists.

Loyola-Chicago was paced by Cody Caldwell’s 13 points on 12 kills and an ace. Joseph Smalzer added 11 kills, one block assist and a team-high six digs. Thomas Jaeschker turned in eight kills, two block assists and an ace in the loss. Peter Hutz set the Ramblers with 34 assists.

The Anteaters’ defense won the battle in the front and back row as they held a 6.5-3-5 block margin and 29-22 edge in digs. Both teams scored three points on aces.